History Nerd Continued

For immediate release:
January 28, 2021

Contact: Stacey Embry, Director, Morgan County Library

If you didn’t read last week’s bookworm, you might want to go back and check it out before reading this one.  This is part 2 of my nerd rant continued, well, not really a rant, just a sharing of history specific and still relevant to the library today. 

This week I move on to Missouri in the Library War Service, an article from The University of Missouri Bulletin dated July 16, 1931.  At this point I would like to point out that I am not going over the information based a rank of like, but more to stay in line with history.  With that being said, this information drops midway through the information I shared last week. Last week covered 1899-1932, this week covers 1917-1920.

“When the US called its young men for military service in 1917, there were practical idealists in places of authority who wanted to give those young men “the normalities of life.” The Secretary of War, therefore, appointed a Commission on Training Camp Activities…to provide in the camps an environment which would approximate that of a well-developed community.”  – Carl H. Milam (Milam worked with the Library War Service from 1917 to 1920)

Last week I mentioned that this would be another example of librarians doing magic with small numbers and boy was it.  Raymond B. Fosdick was the chairman of the Commission of Training Camp Activities.  In a letter, written to the American Library Association (ALA) from Fosdick, management and direction of establishing a central library for the training camps was assigned to the ALA.  “The funds for the erection and equipment of this building will have to be provided from private sources, and I trust that your organization will be successful in obtaining ample financial support.”  The idea was great, but lacked two important items; books for the library and money to finance the work (buildings, etc.). 

In true librarian fashion, a donation drive for books was the first step.  I find that most librarians are givers and assume everyone else is too, not always true.  People did donate, 66,764 books to be exact, but the books were not considered “adequate in kind nor of sufficient quantity.”  Books needed to be purchased.  So we are back to money again, boy, it always causes issues, doesn’t it?  Again, librarians jumped in with the “Dollar-a-Month Club”, where they contributed their own money to the cause.  This was obviously not going to be enough, but again shows that giver characteristic.   The Library War Service started a million-dollar campaign in the fall of 1917. Missouri citizens donated $21,634.01 to this campaign that brought in 1.75 million (320,000 was from the Carnegie corporation for existing library buildings).  In November of 2018 the United War Work Campaign (including all “welfare” organizations) raised 205 million, almost 5.5 million donated by the citizens of Missouri. 

Before and after these campaigns happened, public libraries stepped in a variety of ways: marking and sorting books for the camps, distribution of letters and pamphlets on food conservation, dances and other forms of entertainment to benefit the United War Fund, librarians loaned to camps with salaries continued by local library boards, sold liberty loans, thrift stamps, baby bonds, Red Cross memberships, and French orphan cards and vocational books provided to help prepare the soldiers for reentry into the work place (purchased and shared by state library commissions), just to list a few. 

Remember this was right in the middle of the last information I shared.  Last week I noted that circulation numbers for the traveling libraries went up after WWI.  This act of giving by librarians and public libraries during WWI only reiterated the purpose and more importantly the need for public libraries.  When the funding issues in my last article upset me, I noted that statistics don’t lie, well, this article reminded me that no good deed goes unnoticed.  Libraries were changing (as they still do) and the sacrifices and work done by librarians and the public library helped push along the continued development of free libraries for all.

Next week I will share more great work that led to the biggest step in the development of the public library. 

Upcoming Events: 2/10 Story Time in the Community room (masks required for adults) at 10am, 2/13 STEAM video on Facebook at 10:30am, 2/15 CLOSED, 2/16 Special MOCO Warriors Support video on Facebook at 6:30pm